I received an email last night after writing the post on “Freedom to Write,” asking about how to publish a collection of poetry. She wrote that she wanted to do this in order to show her children that she is following her dream.
I have lots of advice and could go on and on at length, but I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.
The first thing I would advise is that if you have a large group of people encouraging you to do something – do it. They know you and want the best for you.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about telling my fear to stop running my life, it is that I have to do what I’m doing because it is part of me and is insisting on being in the world rather than in my head. I’m not doing it for any accolades (though I seem to have a desperate need for those anyway). I’m not doing it because I expect to make a lot of money (though if I’m going to make a living and a life, that’s important, too). I write and publish because it is the only way I can get what’s in my head out of my head and into the world. That has to be your first motivation.
The next piece of advice is to find people you trust to help you edit your very precious words. You must trust them with that little piece of your soul. They should be wicked smart so they give you good assistance in your use of English; they should be a little empathetic so they know you and your work and don’t mess with it willy-nilly, and they should be willing to tell you when something is just poorly written. You have to believe in them and trust that they’ve got your back.
When it comes to publishing, there are an unlimited number of books available to help you publish to Kindle. Read everything you can get your hands on. Get online and search for forums that discuss self-publishing and ask questions … read everything that is there. When you think you get it and you’ve read enough … find a few more books or blog posts … and read more. Don’t ever stop learning about the medium which will drive your passion. Every single time I hit the button to publish a book into the world, I find that I’ve learned one more bit of information that will make it easier the next time.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. The joy of self-publishing onto Kindle is that you can go back and fix them. It costs nothing to upload new content. Your errors no longer define you and are no longer written in stone. It is important to get your words out there. The critics might bash you … they seem to think that’s their duty, but you’ve done something they never will.
Seth Godin is one of my favorite motivational authors. He insists that for us to do anything to cross over into a life of success … we have to ‘ship.’ We have to get whatever it is that drives us out of our heads and into the world. If we sit on it and don’t let anyone else see it or read it or experience it … we go nowhere. I think of one of my heroes – Diana Nyad. She kept ‘shipping’ until she achieved her dream. She got in that water off the coast of Cuba and started swimming. She failed and failed. It took several times for her to finally make it to the coast of Florida, but she went forward anyway.
Our dreams don’t have to fall by the wayside. We can make them come true. It might take a lot of work … it might take more stamina than we’ve ever invested in anything else in our lives. We might believe that it isn’t worth it, or that we can’t do it well enough to be accepted by the world. We might believe all sorts of terrible things about ourselves. We might tell ourselves that there is no time, that other things are more important. We might have to raise our children or take care of a sick parent; our job might be too overwhelming.
There will always be a good reason to not go after a dream. Seth Godin calls that ugly voice in our head our Lizard Brain; Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance.
Don’t let those things stop you from pursuing your dreams. I believe that to be true for parents more than anyone else. Don’t let your children see you waste a dream. You want more for them and you know as well as anyone that children live out what you model.
Then dream big and SHIP your art into the world.